Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Providing Access to the Most Basic Need in Flood-Affected Jamestown

Access to sufficient, clean water is proving to be a vital concern in mountain communities affected by the devastating floods in September. The floods destroyed or damaged essential water infrastructure (among other things) in a number of communities, including the Boulder County mountain community of Jamestown.

The Red Cross has already provided water tanks to a number of communities surrounding Estes Park and is working to help provide a long-term water solution in Jamestown.  Jamestown especially faces an uphill battle because the town’s water supply system will likely not be restored until the fall of 2014.

The majority of this small mountain community remains displaced.  Even families whose homes are habitable are unable to return back home because of the lack of access to water. 

 “Access to water is turnkey for these families and their community’s recovery; if they have a reliable water source, they can move out of temporary rental housing and back into their homes.  For a tight-knit town like Jamestown, having their community members return home will not only help individuals with their own recovery and rebuilding efforts but also support  the community’s ability to recover,” said Mary Steffens, Recovery Specialist for the American Red Cross of Colorado.

In partnership with The Salvation Army and local community volunteers, the Red Cross is working to provide a long-term solution that will enable these residents to return home.

With the help of our partners in the city of Longmont, the Red Cross was able to secure and arrange the delivery and storage of 12 pallets of individual water bottles to address the water needs of volunteer cleanup crews.  The Red Cross is also working with Eldorado Natural Springs Water to provide gallon water jugs for the residents.  

On Jan. 28, Red Cross workers delivered 25 cases of Eldorado Natural Springs water jugs to a Boulder site that served as a pick-up location where Jamestown volunteers could collect and transport the water to Jamestown.

Next up: purchasing cisterns that can hold hundreds of gallons of water and serve as a secure, ongoing water source for affected households.

 “We’re working on a continuum of service; we started with immediate basic needs for bottled water to drink, increased capacity to jugs, and are working towards the long-term solution of household cisterns. Our efforts and those of our partners like The Salvation Army thus far have helped keep folks hydrated, but our end goal is to help get them back in their homes. The cisterns will help make that possible,” Steffens said.

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army aim to purchase and deliver cisterns to the 20 Jamestown families that reported that would return home if cisterns were installed on their properties by the end of February.  The cisterns will be purchased from a local business to help spur economic recovery in Boulder County.

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